This is a telephone conversation I just had. Really.
Woman: Is Ed there?
Me: I’m sorry, you have the wrong number. (We get a lot of calls asking for Ed.)
Woman: Oh, is your mommy or daddy home?
Me: …This is actually my house. I’m an adult.
Woman: Oh! You sound like you’re 12 years old!
Me: I’m not.
Woman: Well, this is Karen Anderson from the Missing Children’s Foundation, how are you today?
Did she actually think I was going to donate to her charitable organization after that?
I am taking a Korean History class, and as part of the work for the course, we are assigned to read a book about Korea. We were given great liberty in what we could read, and a good friend of mine recommended Still Life With Rice by Helie Lee.
I really liked the book, and I highly recommend it to anybody who is interested in learning about how the role of a Korean woman has changed in the past 100 years. Actually, I would recommend it to just about anybody. It covers the life of the author’s grandmother, from her birth during the Japanese occupation, through the liberation of Korea and the Korean war, and up to her life in America.
I liked the book for two reasons. First, it reminded me of how much the Korean people have gone through in a relatively short period of time. Second, it made me realize how much life and society can change in the course of a lifetime. It made me wonder what life will be like when I am 80.
(I certainly hope I don’t offend anyone with this post. Especially not anyone I actually like.)
I may have mentioned before that I volunteered to be in charge of my ward’s monthly book club. There were some problems before with organizing it and I agreed to take over, make sure things got back on track. I have never in my life even participated in a book club, much less been in charge of one, so I was unsure what to expect.
Unfortunately, it appears from my first experience that book clubs are simply Not My Thing.
It was nice to have five or six people come, especially since that was a full half of the people who signed up; I expected only three or four. Bad Thing #1 was that everyone came having just eaten dinner, so snacks were left untouched. (Wait, who am I kidding? It’s a bad thing that I had an entire box of ice cream, whole jars of hot fudge, chips & salsa, and a homemade veggie tray? No, it wasn’t bad, it was lunch the next day.) Bad Thing #2 was more of a personal issue than anything else — the first three women who came were all pregnant and naturally had a conversation amongst themselves about their pregnancies, a touchy subject for me at the moment. Bad Thing #3, though, actually pertained to the book club itself. We were meeting to decide on a book to read for March, and I had made up a list of suggestions, since it was at my apartment and I was The Boss. Or so I thought.
Actually, my willingness to accept help and direction on how to run a book club was interpreted as “Please, take charge of the conversation and book list” by a well-meaning lady, who had been the previous Boss. I felt a bit like I was forced into a position where I couldn’t disagree or voice my opinion. Ah, well, I probably just interpreted her actions that way, and I could have been all wrong. The reason it became Bad Thing #3 was that the situation seemed removed from my control, and picking a book was no longer my responsibility.
Bad Thing #4 caught me off guard. Because everyone was almost cautiously repeating book titles, vaguely saying they would or wouldn’t like to read such-and-such book, I asked if there was a consensus on one of the titles — The Kite Runner. Subtle nods became more sure as everyone glanced at their neighbors. Then it happened. The same well-meaning lady let me know that in the old book club, whoever picked the book was in charge of leading the discussion and providing ample background information on the author and book next time we meet; and, of course, I had just picked the book.
Well, alright, none of this is really all that bad. I just have a feeling that what I wanted out of a book club was someone telling me what to read. Getting together to talk about the book I couldn’t care less about. That’s what I go to class for. Regardless, I now have another book to read (whether or not I picked it myself), and a discussion to prepare.
If nothing else, my apartment will still be clean for a few more days before it degenerates back into its usual mess!